Illinois Launches BEAD Challenge Process

The Illinois Office of Broadband formally launched its Challenge Process on February 20, 2024, starting the 120-day clock to get the broadband map right. The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Challenge Process gives Illinois non-profits, local governments, residents, and internet service providers the opportunity to weigh in on the broadband availability map to ensure funding is going where it is needed most.

Illinois Broadband Director is a State Broadband Veteran

Illinois Broadband Director Matt Schmit is no newbie, nor is the state’s broadband office. In 2019, Illinois’ $45 billion capital investment plan included $400 million to fund a new broadband program that would be dubbed “Connect Illinois.” That summer, Schmit was recruited from Minnesota to stand up the office that would oversee the grant program and Illinois’ broadband efforts.


What's Your State's Digital Equity Plan?

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Monday, February 12, 2024

Planning for a ‘Broadband Breakthrough’ – Rural Illinois Counties Prepare for ‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Funding Opportunity

Peggy Braffet and her husband think about broadband a lot. When guests show up to their pick-your-own berry farm, they sometimes expect to be able to pay with credit cards, but the Braffets' slow internet connection won't allow it.


The Plan for a Connected Illinois

Illinois is home to over 12.7 million individuals in approximately 4.9 million families who speak over 20 languages. These families live in 102 counties that range from the dense urban areas found in Cook, DuPage, and Lake counties to the rural areas in Pope and Stark counties; from Illinois’ manufacturing centers like the Quad Cities, Rockford, and Greater Peoria regions to the farmlands of Gallatin, White, and Sangamon counties. Common to all of these communities and geographies is the way they stay connected to each other and to the broader global community; how they access healthcare, e


The Plan for a Connected Illinois

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Illinois Program Aims to Help Rural Counties Win Broadband Funding

Several organizations, led by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, are working on Broadband Breakthrough, a pilot program that aims to help bring federally funded high-speed connectivity to five rural Illinois counties. The idea behind the program, which is funded by United Soybean Board, is to increase the percentage of farmers with broadband by preparing a wide variety of stakeholders to apply for grant money from the federal government.

Illinoisans pay nation's highest wireless cell phone service tax

Illinoisans paid the highest state and local taxes for wireless cell phone service in the nation in 2023, spending more monthly than the combined rates of the two lowest states—Idaho and Nevada. Illinois wireless plan holders paid 23% in state and local taxes, fees and government surcharges on their monthly wireless bills in 2023. Residents in each state also paid 10.8% in federal taxes to the Universal Service Fund for cell phone service in 2023. That gave Illinois a grand total of 33.8% in government taxes on the cell bills compared to the 24.5% U.S. average.

Broadband Planning Tools for Rural Farming Communities

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society's Broadband Breakthrough is a community engagement and broadband planning program focused on rural farming communities—because today, broadband is a necessary tool to innovate farming practices and allow for sustainable, targeted, and efficient resource use. The goal of Broadband Breakthrough is to help other rural farming communities understand the value of improved broadband access—and provide the resources, tools, and work required to get better broadband and chart a path for smart farming.